Mazatlán Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund

What first attracted you to Mazatlán? What do you love about living here? My guess is that music is part of it. Yes, our gorgeous natural environment, the warmth of its people, and the joy and variety of its music! Whether classical, jazz, cumbia, bolero, rock and roll, metal, reggae, romantic ballads, pop, folk, country, norteña, banda or tambora, we are fortunate in that Mazatlán offers up every type of music. We are blessed to enjoy live music while we dine, walk the beach, at parties we attend, in bars and theaters. What would our beloved Mazatlán be without that music? We do not want our live musicians going extinct!

Help make sure that we will have music to enjoy once COVID-19 is history! While the whole world is hurting, there are thousands of talented musicians here in Mazatlán who lost their jobs overnight and now have no way to feed their families. They went to bed planning to play the wedding or quinceañera party and their standard weekly gigs, and next thing they knew all concerts and events were shut down, restaurants and hotels closed. Most Canadian and US American residents disappeared suddenly, as have national and international tourists. Locals are confined to home.

Our musicians are desperate. They generally receive no social benefits and have no insurance. Their emloyers have not floated them loans or paid them in advance; they are generally just SOL. The average musician here, as the average artist or worker, lives paycheck to paycheck.

The non-profit (registered tax-deductible in Mexico, Canada and the USA) Sociedad de la Guitarra Mazatlán, in partnership with UMATEM (Unión de Músicos, Artistas y Técnicos de Mazatlán) and other musicians’ unions has set up a the Mazatlán Musicians’ Emergency Relief Fund. You have from now till May 5th—Cinco de Mayo, Giving Tuesday—to contribute what you can to ensure that our local musicians can feed their families and keep playing for us. Please donate now, so you don’t forget and because the need is pressing. To receive your receipt for tax purposes, please email donar@guitarramazatlan.org after making your donation.

100% of the funds received will be paid directly to musicians in need, up to a maximum of 6000 pesos. Your donation via PayPal goes into a fund with INBURSA certified by a public accountant. As is required by law, bookkeeping will be transparent, and records of disbursements and receipts published.

Any working musician is eligible to apply; preference will be given to working musicians over 60 and those who are disabled. Recipients will be limited to musicians who don’t have a secondary source of income—statements will be verified with SAT (the Mexican taxation administration). Musicians needing help will fill out an application and be asked to share copies of contracts that were cancelled or have their union, or an employer vouch for them.

I am proud that the Sociedad de la Guitarra Mazatlán has stepped up to lead the community in this way. They are modeling their effort on a similar program underway in Seattle. Founded in 2013, the non-profit association has done a load of good work here in town in its first seven years. They hold an annual “classical guitar season” of six concerts that is the only one of its kind in Mexico. For every concert they do a second, identical show that’s free-of-charge as outreach to those who wouldn’t otherwise get to hear such music—performances at a local school, aged care facility or public plaza. The association is also starting a youth guitar orchestra—the Núcleo Infantíl de Guitarristas—which will meet every Saturday once the current pandemic is behind us.

I know there are many pulls on our resources right now. Our systems are overloaded. If you are able, if you enjoy the wealth and variety of music that Mazatlán offers, please reach into your heart and into your pocketbooks to help these artists!

Stay home, stay healthy, help your neighbors. I hope to see you again soon.

 

 

Custom Hats and Jewelry

IMG_5501 (1)I have fallen in love. Again. Yes, it happens every so often when a gorgeous smile and a beautiful soul cross my path. This time it is with Andrea Salas Pinedo.

Andrea is a sculptor and painter from Durango, 22 years old and the mother of two small children. She is a delight—a talented young lady with a huge warm smile and a soul that radiates joy. She has been painting for ten years, and for the last four months she has been here in Mazatlán with her husband and children selling hats on the beach and in the foreign craft markets.

I love her hats! She charges 300 pesos for each one, and you can choose from those she has on hand, or you can order one special. I just ordered one for a certification event I am hosting this week. It will be one of the prizes during the workshop. I believe it will be very popular. Click on any photo to enlarge or view a slideshow.

Andrea also molds earrings that are so very cute! I bought a few of those for gifts as well. At only 50 pesos they are a bargain. If you’d like to see Andrea’s work, look for her on the beach in the Golden Zone, or at the market at La Catrina restaurant on Wednesdays from 9 am till noon. Easier yet, message her through her Facebook page.

Her Oaxacan family sells embroidered shirts, blouses and dresses, so if you’re looking for those, you can get them through Andrea also. Have a beautiful week!

National Ballet Director Invites You

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I’ve told you about this season’s “not-to-be-missed” ballet gala with lead dancers from Mexico’s best dance companies: the National Bellas Artes as well as the Ballet de Monterrey. They will be joined on stage by top students from two of Mexico’s leading ballet schools—in Veracruz and Monterrey—as well as from a local mazatlecan ballet academy.

The International Ballet Gala will take place on Sunday November 17th at 6:00 pm in the Angela Peralta Theater. It is a fundraiser for DIF Mazatlán, which helps families in need. Tickets are available at the Angela Peralta box office or by sending a WhatsApp to Carolina at +52-1-669-941-2550 and paying via PayPal. There is only one performance, so be sure to secure your good seats now.

On Monday I had the distinct pleasure and privilege to host the Director of the National Dance Company, Maestro Cuahutémoc Nájera, in our home. He and his wife make their home here in Mazatlán, and have high hopes for our local cultural and dance scene. He tells me how much he loves the Angela Peralta Theater, and how he performed there as a young dancer, before it was completely remodeled.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the maestro. He is very easy to talk to, charming, and down to earth, counter to the stereotype of so many talented artists. Below is the promo video for the event. Get your tickets now, as I’m confident this event will sell out.

Giant Alebrije Parade

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I was most fortunate to have to work in Mexico City on Friday October 18th. The reason? Because the following day was the Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales, a parade of gigantic, whimsical and fantastical wooden folk art pieces made from papier maché.

This year at the commencement of the parade the giant alebrijes were named a Mexican cultural heritage—the only form of folk art unique to the old Federal District. Since they came to life from the imagination of Pedro Linares in the 1930s, a couple of pueblos in Oaxaca have made names for themselves by carving alebrijes out of copal wood. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The parade included more than TWO HUNDRED handmade, monumentally sized alebrijes in fantastical shapes and colors. I was psyched to be able to photograph them in front of the cathedral and with the Palace of Fine Arts as a backdrop. After the several hour parade they “parked” the alebrijes along Reforma Avenue, and thousands more people were able to admire their beauty.

Many of the artists marched in the parade together with their works, as did many of the “hands” that helped build the incredible pieces. They honest to God took my breath away! What a great way to spend a weekend with girlfriends!

On the other side of La Reforma was a huge exhibition of skulls, called “MexiCráneos,” also very cool. The cempasúchil flowers were all out. I was excited to take photos of them with the Angel de la Independencia, but she is covered with scaffolding and under rehabilitation, and the flowers were full of thousands of people. So much for those gorgeous, quiet, no-people photos with the Angel in her glory!

 

 

 

Humble Beginnings Don’t Hold Him Back!

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+ The Masculine Form (project in development)
Photos: @santiago_barreiro @insidenatgeo #insidenatgeo

Most every society worldwide seems to be suffering a breakdown in the social fabric these days, a rise in corruption and violence, a loss of the values that make individuals and our communities healthy.

Maestro Cuahutémoc Nájera—the director of Mexico’s National Ballet Company—and his wife, Maestra Carolina Rios, strongly believe in the power of dance to strengthen communities and build strong, healthy, disciplined and principled individuals. Luckily for us, they live here and see dance as a tool to secure a better future for Mazatlán and México. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

The maestros shared with me a post by es+Cultura that I found to be extremely powerful, and I have translated it for you below:

“Seven years ago the priest told Aaron’s grandma, Magda, ‘get him out of that ballet; the kids there become gay.” To avoid conflict she agreed, though she never followed through, because her grandson’s dream was to be a dancer and she was going to support him.

Aaron de Jesús Márques is one of the talents discovered by a program (PROVER) that seeks to promote dance in the city of Córdoba, in the state of Veracruz, giving scholarships to boys from complex social contexts. If the boy has needs and the desire, they pay for his studies, transportation, equipment and food for eight years, eight hours a day. The low enrollment of men in the private academy of Martha Sahagún was the impulse for this project, which now has various generations promoting the talent and diversity of Veracruz.

When he was barely seven years old Aaron didn’t even know what ballet was, in fact, the term didn’t sound familiar, but when the opportunity presented itself he didn’t hesitate even a minute to run up to the teacher who conducted the auditions to show her his physical conditioning. Months later when he’d begun his training, he understood that what his body was really asking him for was to dance ballet, and now no one would get in his way.

Aaron lives with his grandmother, or better said, his mother, as that’s what he likes to call her. She raised him once his Dad died and his biological mother emigrated for a better life economically. Magda supported the family. She was responsible for feeding, taking care of and giving life to the dreams of her grandson. The career of a classical ballet dancer involves a lot of dedication and discipline; it is a family project and in most cases requires the moral support of a feminine head of the household.

Classical dance gave the boy a stylizing manner to move his body, it proposed a language in which it wasn’t necessary to use impact and force like so many other disciplines. Aaron dances to express himself without words, to liberate himself from the structure that questions, violates and judges masculine feelings.

The exercise of classical western dance has implicated from its beginnings situations of violation and exclusion, it has generated negative stereotypes against men who pursue this discipline as a way of life. The hegemonic precepts around what it means to “be a man” in Latin American culture tend to determine how ballet is seen as art. In this 21st century, respect for the male dancer still hasn’t penetrated deeply into society, where machismo and its prejudices only put pride in “manly” sports . With this line of reasoning, dance is habitually associated with femininity. In this sense, there are unequal conditions for dancers, with men playing subordinate roles. This conception brings with it endless social conflicts. Today’s man tries to feel, express and free himself from established obligations (to procreate, provide, protect). However, society insists on assigning gender roles when and where they should not be. Dance in and of itself should not divide, distinguish or bias.

Aaron and some of his colleagues, plus his teacher, will be here in Mazatlán on Sunday, 17th November, performing in the Angela Peralta Theater at 6:00 pm, along with principal dancers from Mexico’s two best ballet companies: Ballet de Monterrey and the National Bellas Artes. Get your tickets at the box office now or WhatsApp Carolina at 52-1-669-941-2550; the performance benefits DIF Mazatlán (local families in need).

In the video below, Maestro Nájera tells us a bit about Aaron’s terrific program in Cordoba, Veracruz, where for the past ten years street kids have been given a new lease on life and a future in professional dance through educational and dance scholarships with amazing results.

Carolina dedicates herself to teaching young students; she owns and runs a dance school up in the marina. In the video below, she talks to me about the ways she has witnessed dance helping her students to be stronger, healthier, with higher self esteem, more cooperative and disciplined, and her plans for programming in the public spaces of Mazatlán.